There’s a lot we can learn from professional athletes. Most of us don’t have the time to implement a full-on training regime, but here are four simple habits that we can easily integrate into our daily routines, even if we’re not professionals.
Iwan Gwyn Thomas is a Welsh sprinter who represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the 4x400m relay at the 1996 Olympic Games. In 1997 he won a World Championship gold. He credits his success to his consistency. After his first stint at the Olympics, he had a four-year gap to train for the next games. For those four years he trained consistently, rather than choosing to cut back on training for three years and then take up an aggressive training programme during the Olympic year, as some athletes are tempted to do. As the saying goes, slow and steady (training) wins the race.
Take time to rest and recover
Just as consistency is important, it’s equally as important to schedule rest days. Even Olympic athletes take the time to rest.
Rest days are particularly important for runners, as when you run you cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. Your body doesn’t enjoy this, so it responds by rebuilding your muscles to be stronger. However, it can only do this when you are resting. Recovery can take anywhere from 36 to 48 hours. We wrote a whole piece on the importance of rest days, which you can check out here.
Find an accountability buddy
CPPS coach Joe DeFranco noted two of the key benefits of finding a training partner, it makes you accountable to someone besides yourself, and there’s ‘the inherent competition that takes place when you train with a partner.’
The Olympic American cross-country cyclist Chloe Woodruff has her own accountability buddy, mountain biker Rose Grant. The two often train together to ensure they stay motivated and consistent, hitting their personal athletic goals.
Make sleep a priority
Healthcare specialists working with Olympic athletes have noted the importance of sleep. Most people need around 7-9 hours sleep, but if you’re upping your training routine, you may need to up the amount you sleep too, as your recovery time will increase. For athletes, a lack of sleep can result in reduction in performance, decision-making ability, and immune function.
A study found that male and female swimmers who extended their sleep to ten hours improved their turn times, reactions off diving blocks and kick strokes. They even improved their times swimming a 15-meter sprint.
If you enjoyed this, check out our post on how strength training can improve your run.